With brands like Punjab Grill, Fresc Co, Zambar, Asia 7, Baker Street, Street Food by Punjab Grill, Pino’s, Savour and Bottoms Up, Lite Bite Foods(LBF)is growing fast globally. It has more than 86 operational outlets, currently covering more than 1.5 million sq. ft of Retail space. Rohit Aggarwal, Director, Lite Bite Foods spoke to us on taking his brands international and thoughts on franchising.
What are Punjab Grill’s expansion plans via franchise route? What are your thoughts on expansion via franchisees?
We already have franchise models of Punjab Grill in Bangalore and Singapore and are planning to expand further in Chennai, Jeddah and Saudi market through franchise route. We believe that there is a huge business potential in tier II and III markets, which can be best tapped via franchising. Consumers in these cities are well informed about the latest trends and are willing to spend. Through this business model, we aim to reach out to them and give them a taste of our culinary expertise.
We are planning to launch a Punjab Grill outlet in Bangkok and a premium dining brand ‘American Tandoor’, which will serve Indian cuisine with an American twist. The first outlet will be a 250 seater, spread over 5,500 square feet and is located in one of the biggest malls in Washington DC — Tysons Corner Centre. We are also planning to increase the number of outlets of our signature brands - Punjab Grill, Street Foods by Punjab Grill and Baker Street and Bottoms Up in the domestic market and also spread our reach in the international market in the next few years.
Top trends in Fine Dine .
The eating out trend has evolved for good in the past few years, today fine dining isn't just about the food, it's also about ambience, service and visual appeal. Patrons are willing to spend extra for a complete dine-out experience. The F&B industry has become very youth oriented these days. It has become absolutely necessary to understand what the customers want as they contribute a lot in building the reputation of a restaurant.
Most preferred location by food brands these days to open an outlet?
The popular mall of Delhi such as Select Citywalk, Saket and Ambience, Gurgaon are amongst the popular locations for any kind of business – be it food or apparels. We have Punjab Grill, Zambar, Fresc Co and Baker Street outlets in these locations which are doing extremely well.
Lately, Cyberhub has become a foodie’s paradise; Cyber City has ensured targeted footfalls and a regular customer base. Since Cyber-Hub has a captive all-day market, capacity utilisation within stores is higher. We have a Zambar Outlet in Cyber Hub, it is one of our best performing outlets and weekends especially are packed with families from Delhi-NCR area.
Even the restaurant landscape in Mumbai is changing for good, outlet in Palladium Mall, Juhu is the most revenue producing outlet. With the increasing purchasing power in tier – II towns, these areas are also becoming increasingly popular.
Is trained staff and retaining them still a challenge with F&B industry? How do you tackle it?
Indeed, it’s challenging to recruit and retain efficient manpower these days. Attrition rate is among the highest in F&B sector, owing to fierce competition and lack of right mindset to stick to wicket and build career. Lite Bite Foods has been fortunate enough to have a motivated and happy team. It is important to let them experiment and understand them, at Lite Bite, we give the freedom to innovate and experiment. We have got an in-house training department who works round the clock to train our staff with best practices.
Food brands are going organic in every possible way. What's LBF doing for its clientele in this stream?
With the consumers becoming increasingly health conscious in terms of quality standards, restaurateurs are coming up with organic options in the menu. Consumers are now willing to pay for organic foods as compared to conventional foods particularly the younger customers are concerned about everything from food ingredients to organic foods. At Bottoms Up, we have introduced dishes made from Air Fryer. At Andheri, we are doing special healthy menu option in buffet. Also, we are getting more into organic stuff and seasonal produce along with the normal a-la carte menu
How important is social network promotion for a brand like yours? How do you maintain it?
Social media has evolved into a powerful marketing tool for restaurants. At the same time, restaurants struggle to protect their brands’ image given the speed and reach of social media posts. One of the trickiest areas to tackle these days is ‘Social Media’. It becomes really difficult to control what people are writing about you on platforms like Facebook or Twitter. We have got an in house dedicated team for digital marketing who keeps a track on recent social media trends. We keep a tap on the current #tags and what people are writing about us on various social media handles. We monitor them and ensure that every query or complaint is resolved within 24 hours with corrective action.